An early study, published in the journal Gut, shows that a simple breath test could help predict whether people with gut problems are at high risk of developing stomach cancer.

A simple test which works by detecting chemical compounds in people’s breath has been developed which identifies unique “breath prints” which highlight potentially risky pre-cancerous changes in patients.

While more work is necessary to validate the test, if the trials prove successful then it could help ensure that patients on the brink of cancer are treated earlier.

Currently around 7,300 people are affected by stomach cancer every year in the UK. It is often diagnosed late when the chance of survival is poor because the symptoms, which include, indigestion and stomach pain are mistaken for other conditions.

Linda Millband, joint head of the clinical negligence team at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Although this study is at an early stage, it is encouraging to hear of such developments which could enable healthcare professionals to diagnose cancer at a very early stage.

“Early diagnosis can mean that patients have the best possible chance of starting appropriate treatment as soon as possible, which can improve a patient’s prognosis.

“At Thompsons Solicitors, we have supported many patients who have suffered cancer misdiagnosis or delays in cancer diagnosis, so any test or technological advancement which helps medical professionals ensure that this doesn’t happen is welcome as it will improve cancer survival rates here in the UK.”